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First Union Vote At An Amazon Warehouse In The U.S. Fails

An employee stocks products along one of the many miles of aisles at an Fulfillment Center in Phoenix last month.
Ross D. Franklin
An employee stocks products along one of the many miles of aisles at an Fulfillment Center in Phoenix last month.

Employees at an facility have decided against forming a labor union. The vote last night was the first of its kind in Amazon's history.

The Seattle-based online retailer employs more than 100,000 people worldwide, and the union would have comprised only about 30 maintenance and repair technicians at a warehouse in Delaware. These employees were unhappy about "limited opportunities for promotion and a constantly rotating chain of managers," Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

But after weeks of discussion, only six of them voted for unionization late Wednesday.

John Carr, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the company had met with employees to pressure them against unionizing. He called the process "an uphill battle all the way."

Kelly Cheeseman, an Amazon spokeswoman, tells the Two-Way that the company had met with the employees "to communicate facts and ensure they had all the information they needed to make an informed choice" and that the group decided that they didn't want third-party representation.

This would have been Amazon's first labor union in the U.S. The company is openly opposed to unions and has successfully fought previous efforts to unionize here. The attempts had never before gotten as far as an employee vote.

But some workers in other countries have sided with third-party negotiators. In Germany, hundreds of employees at three distribution centers went on strike last month to dispute their pay, CNN Money reports. Hundreds of other employees in Germany, worried that Amazon would move its facilities, responded by signing a petition against the unionization efforts.

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Emily Siner is an enterprise reporter at WPLN. She has worked at the Los Angeles Times and NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C., and her written work was recently published in Slices Of Life, an anthology of literary feature writing. Born and raised in the Chicago area, she is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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